event-planning-tips (feat)

Things You Don’t Want to “Overlook” When Planning Your Next Event!

I recently attended a conference in Orlando, Florida, where I heard a speaker say, “Event planning is like a high wire act without a net.”

It made me laugh, but as I thought about it, I realized it’s very true! Basically, once your event starts, there’s no turning back.

That’s why the key to any successful event is to plan early and plan often. You want to make sure the event achieves your goals as well as your attendees, so everybody has a great experience.

So, how do you do it? Start by keeping the following things in mind during the planning process:

Define your goals for the event

Determine your expected return on event (ROE). The single most important question to ask yourself before planning your event is, “What is the goal of the event?”

It might be as simple as doubling the number of registrants from your previous event, or perhaps you would like 100% of the people you train to obtain their continuing education credit (CEU).

And since it’s rare to plan your event in isolation, it’s important to share what success looks like to all of those involved.

Figure out when to start planning your event. The question I get most from people is, “How far in advance should I start planning my event?”

The answer: It really depends on the number of events you’re hosting each year.

If you’re doing only one event a year, I would start planning about nine months in advance. This will give you plenty of time to secure a date and location. If doing a few events a year, I would start planning at least 90-days in advance.

Regardless, it’s important to send out a “Save-the-Date” email as soon as possible. This will give people the opportunity to offer input about what they would like to get out of the event and make sure they get it scheduled on their calendar.

Create a timeline for your event. Once you have secured a date and location, you can start putting together a road map to make sure you achieve your ROE.

I would recommend writing out a schedule of weekly tasks, with specific dates for completion, and who is responsible for completing them.

And, most importantly, make sure everybody on your team is aware of the “plan.” This will keep things on track so nothing falls through the cracks.

Put yourself in your attendees’ shoes — what things would YOU look for in an event?

Make sure attendees can get the information they need—when they need it. One much overlooked practice is to have a single point of contact for an event. This would include a name, phone number, and email address for this person. If potential attendees have a question, you want to make it easy for them to get the answers they need—when they need it.

You also want to make sure the event details are clear. Whether it’s directions to the event, transportation information, parking facilities, etc., you want to avoid no-shows or late comers because the little things weren’t included in your event materials.

First impressions do matter—make yours count! It’s likely that the first impression someone will have of your event is derived from your email invitation, so it needs to sizzle (or pop)! It should look professional and communicate the basic information about your event.

This is your call to action for the invitee to take the next step, which is to click “Register Now!” And this link should reside in two locations—one at the top of the invitation and one at the bottom. This way it can’t be overlooked.

Make it easy & affordable for people to register. If there is a fee to attend your event, I would highly recommend you provide an early-registration discount. This will encourage people to register early.

It can also have a domino effect for increasing attendance. The act of seeing early registrations will provide social proof to others that this is something they should jump on—ASAP.

Successful meetings and events are vital to the overall success of small businesses and nonprofits! It’s your opportunity to speak face-to-face with your audience, so it’s important to make this a great experience—for everybody!

What tips do you have for planning a successful event? Let us know in the comments below!


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  1. What a thorough list you have created, Erik. Fantastic! I do all of what you outlined so agree with you 100%. The other thing I would add is be sure to ask yourself, “How can I make this different than other events?” including your own past events. How can you “one up” what you previously did to keep it fresh and new? How can you create a sense of wonderment in your guests as to what you might do this time to surprise them? I use myself as my gauge – what did I like and dislike about other events? Did they pay attention to details with my comfort and happiness in mind? Do they try to provide a different guest experience? Do they understand me and my needs when hiring speakers? Do they understand their audience? So I ask myself all of those questions when I’m planning an event. When working with venues, I highly suggest speaking up if there is something you want or wonder if it might be feasible. For example, I host women’s events. I will ask the hotel/venue if we can open up all restrooms for women so that no one is standing in line waiting while no one is using the men’s room. Moving people through the restrooms and getting them back out to see the exhibitors and network is important to me. The venue would never offer that, but I am bold and ask! Make sure you ask what seating arrangement is possible. My women don’t like to sit with their backs to the speaker, nor do I. So I arrange the tables in “half moons” with everyone facing the front. If all I could have was theater style, I would not go to that venue. The attention to detail and understanding of your audience will not go unnoticed. And I have to mention marketing. So many people put all their effort into the event planning that they forget to market the event to get people in seats. What good is a well planned event if no one is there? You have an obligation to your business, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, etc. to fill those seats! Thank you, as always, Erik, for a well thought out and thorough post.

  2. This is a very good blog about event planning, everyone in the the event industry should read this. Sometimes even event planning experts still overlook some (important) things. So before the major event comes, always recheck everything.

  3. Erik Mintz •

    Thanks for the comment Mortisha!

  4. Hi Erik. Thanks for the post.
    I was contacted from a large franchise company to possibly establish my fitness program into their stores and have live fitness classes.
    We decided to first test this opportunity out on weekends and see if we could drum up traffic.
    If all goes well, I’ll stay and grow with them!

    They would like me to start this in 2 to 3 weeks!

    I’m having to re think how to go about this.
    I’m thinking instead of making this a “show” with drawing for prizes and special exhibits (which all takes time to cultivate) to get people into the store, I would just simply offer numerous classes throughout the day.

    I’m still faced with trying to get people to sign up for these classes in such short noticed.
    What would be your thoughts?
    What do you think about pursuing a coupon deal like Living Social or Groupon to get people to sign up for classes and gain exposure?
    I find marketing through these coupons are much more effective than paying for advertisement through local paper. Yet, some people think these coupons gives the impression of being desperate.

    Any thoughts on this and if you were faced with this opportunity how would you handle it?


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